There is some debate regarding whether women should continue to practice yoga during their menstruation cycles, a debate which is seemingly limited to a woman’s own personal menstrual cycle and associated symptoms. While periods may make it difficult for some women to participate in yoga due to menstrual symptoms, such as painful cramps, fatigue, and other unpleasant effects of periods, there is scientific research and evidence that suggests that doing yoga is unsafe during the menstrual cycle. With this in mind, the determination of whether you should practice yoga during your period is entirely based on your own menstrual experience. Since the menstrual cycle affects women’s bodies differently, it is entirely a personal preference as to whether practicing yoga will help or exacerbate the cycle.
The main reason you may choose not to participate in yoga during your period may be due to the negative symptoms of menstruation. Uncomfortable cramps, mood swings, tenderness, and irritability may hinder your ability to fully engage in the yoga practices that you want to. Many yoga enthusiasts debate about inversion poses during menstruation and whether they are safe to practice. Inversion poses include any pose that involves positioning your head below your heart, such as in headstands, handstands, and shoulderstands.
The most common argument against the practice of inversions during one’s period is the potential risk of developing endometriosis because of the unnatural flow of menstrual blood back into the uterus. There is no current research evidence that suggests that inversions are harmful to your body during this time, although it is completely up to you and what your body is comfortable with doing during your period.
In fact, practicing yoga can have beneficial effects on the negative impacts of periods. There are a few yoga poses you can practice that are recommended to ease the pain of cramps, such as the Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose and Bound Angle Pose while placing both hands on your abdomen and taking full, deep breaths into your belly. There are tons of common poses that can alleviate these PMS symptoms and make you feel better. You can opt for a number of gentler poses to practice during your period to help soothe your body and ease the uncomfortableness you may be feeling.
Some suggestions for good yoga poses include:
1. Cobbler’s Pose
Seated poses during yoga while on your period may be more comfortable since the lower half of your body generally feels heavier during menstruation. This pose allows you to stay in a seated position for several minutes, and it focuses on opening the pelvic region.
2. Head-to-Knee Pose
This pose includes extending your right leg and placing the sole of your left foot on your right inner thigh. You must square your torso over the extended right leg and focus on bending forward over that leg, making sure your right foot remains flexed onto your right thigh. This pose stretches the hamstrings, hips, and groin.
3. Seated Straddle
Another seated pose, this includes opening the legs out as wide as you comfortably can and keeping the thigh muscles and feet flexed. Keep your toes pointing straight at the ceiling, and bend forward between your legs and hold the position. This pose is great for stretching the hamstrings and calves and for elongating the spine.
4. Reclined Goddess Pose
This is a restorative pose, also known as the Reclined Bound Angle Pose, and helps open up the groin and hips. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees while keeping the soles of your feet placed on the floor. Open your knees outwards and bring the soles of your feet together, and remain in that position for several minutes.
Your menstrual cycle is a time of enhanced sensitivity and awareness, which can benefit us in our yoga practice experiences. Using meditation during this time can also be beneficial in finding an emotional balance, increasing relaxation and having a positive effect on our physical and mental health. Since periods vary differently for each woman, how you practice yoga techniques while on your period is entirely up to you and what your body is comfortable with during this time.